Coal stock comfortable, commercial mines to produce 145 mt in FY24: Coal secy

Coal secretary Amrit Lal Meena.
Coal secretary Amrit Lal Meena.


In an interview, coal secretary Amrit Lal Meena said coal output from commercial and captive mines will reach 145 million tonnes in FY24.

NEW DELHI : With the likelihood of 11 auctioned commercial mines becoming operational in the current fiscal year, coal output from commercial and captive mines will reach 145 million tonnes (mt) in FY24, said coal secretary Amrit Lal Meena.

Last year production from commercial and captive mines was about 116 mt. In an interview, the secretary said that the target for this output from commercial mines is 162 mt, and that production is expected to reach 145 mt. He said the 30 mt year-on-year growth would be of major support to the growing demand. He said the stock at mine pitheads is “quite comfortable" and that there is no shortage of coal to meet the power sector’s demand. However, some parts of coastal areas may need to import some coal for logistical ease. Edited Excerpts:

What is the coal stock situation? Is there a need to import coal?

Coal stock is quite comfortable. With the decline in rains, production picks up. There will not be any problem in terms of shortage of the coal. We have adequate coal. There is enough coal at the mine end. But many of the plants are located far off in which there is distance of 1,000-1,500 km. One rack goes and returns in five days. Given the overall limited availability of railway racks, it takes time to reach the far-off thermal plants. There is a possibility of some kind of shortage of also, in the remote places, which we call logistically constrained thermal power plants. For logistically constrained thermal power plants, coal should either come from Coal India Ltd or it should come from other sources. Many of these plants are located near the coastal areas. Such imported coal-based plants are designed for imported coal. There is import of about 2 mt per month for blending purposes by some gencos, primarily for logistically constrained plants.

What has been the progress in terms of the commercial coal mines auctioned so far?

So far, 92 mines have been auctioned and six or seven have already come into production. Eleven mines would start this year. And the rest would start in phases, next year, the year after that and so on. The ideal planned time for any coal mine is 51 months. The mines which have been auctioned have to made operational in 51 months. We have to make progress based on that timeline. If we expect that the mines have been auctioned today and it would become operational in two years, that is not the plan. Because the auction holder has to arrange for the land, he has to take forest clearance. About 17 approvals are required in total. That requires time. However, there are mines which have come into operation before 51 months too.

What is the contribution of auctioned commercial mines?

Share of commercial and captive is getting added. In FY23, they produced over 115 mt. By 24 March, we target 162 mt. But, hopefully we will end up at 145 mt. This 30 mt is net addition going to the market. This will give a breathing space.

Share of commercial and captive is getting added. In FY23, they produced over 115 million tonne. By March 24, we target 162 million tonne. But, hopefully we will end up at 145 million tonne. This 30 million tonne addition is net addition going to the market. This will definitely give a breathing space.

What new initiatives is the ministry working on?

We are working on two initiatives for technology promotion. One is promotion is underground coal mining. Other is promotion of HEMM (heavy earth moving machinery). We are coming out with a policy for promotion of HEMM manufacturing.

Further, right now we are producing on 28 million tonne of coal from underground mine. We need to take this to 100 million tonne, nearly four times. The advantage of underground mine is that one doesn’t need to take land from farmers and there no depletion of forest. There is a big role of technology. We want to promote it.

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